Romeo and Juliet (the big grade)

(this was an assignment for a class from years ago. I had to write of a defining moment in my life. )

Romeo and Juliet, the Big Grade

Who ever thought getting arrested would have a beneficial impact on their scholastic career? Perhaps I am getting a bit ahead of myself; let me begin with the third grader I once was.
It was the end of the third grade. I sat nervously twittering, barely able to contain myself, dying to see my report card. Had I done it? Had I made straight A’s the entire year? Had I wings, surely I would have flown away. I opened the yellow envelope the second it was in my hands. I was shaking so badly I thought I would vibrate right out of my tiny desk. Finally it was open and to my horror, after so many beautiful A’s, there was a B. The B stood there brazenly defying my will to magically melt away and be triumphantly replaced by another of my coveted A’s. It was not to be, it would not go. It just sat there mocking me. I was furious.
My mother told me she was very proud, but I couldn’t bear the thought of my grandmother coming to visit with me holding a less than perfect report card. As I stood there, unable to breathe with tears creeping into my eyes, she exclaimed, to my great relief, “This is wonderful Jeffery!”
“But Grandma,” I stammered, “I didn’t get all A’s like I promised.” This is why I had been so horrified, I had promised my grandmother a few months earlier that I was going get all A’s for her. She had moved about a year earlier and I hadn’t seen her since her move. I didn’t know till later that the move was to be near my uncles because she was sick. I have tried many times to remember if she looked sick when I saw her that day. My memory refuses to see anything but my Grandma proudly beaming at her grandson’s report card. That was the last time I saw her.
Consequently that was the last grade I passed for six years. I was always placed in the next grade by scoring highly on the state exams. My grandmother was my only real educational motivation. Please don’t misunderstand, my mother always wanted me to do well and it upset her when I didn’t. Coddling was not tolerated in the home I grew up in. My stepfather would not have allowed it. It seemed any amount of praise for me was akin to severe pain.
I guess I just gave up; one can only be told they are stupid and worthless so many times before the belief starts to set in. I had absolutely no confidence in myself. I resigned myself to the fate that I’d never amount to anything or be anybody of value.
Let’s skip ahead a few years. I was in ninth grade. I was a poor student, I regularly disrupted class, and homework was something losers did. I was the real loser so homework was too much to expect from me.
I became convinced that my teachers all had it in for me. I didn’t think this because they were teachers; I thought this because they were adults. In some twisted way I thought all adults were just as bad as my stepfather. In hindsight, I now see it was a fairly irrational mindset I allowed myself to slip into. In fact it was I who tormented my teachers, not the other way around. It got so bad, that I avoided adults when ever possible.
My behavior continually degraded and eventually I found myself sitting in a police car. How I got there doesn’t really matter anymore. It was just another rung on the ladder I was heading down, my descent accelerated with each passing moment.
After a cozy weekend stay at the local juvenile detention center, I found myself packing my belongings as quickly as I was able into the trunk of my mother’s car. I was no longer welcome in my stepfather’s home; it was probably the nicest thing he ever did for me.
I was now living with the youth pastor from my church and his family. (That was an odd adventure to say the least.) Along with the new address I inherited a probation officer. An imposing black man named Edward Grady; he stood six feet six inches tall and weighed 350lbs. (He turned out to be one of the most caring people I had ever met. This was a fact I didn’t know just then, it wasn’t until it was too late that I realized his true nature, but that is a story for a different day.)
Mr. Grady told me sternly, “If you don’t pass the ninth grade you are going to juvenile hall.”
I knew he was serious, but I tried very hard to explain that my highest class average was a 43 in English and that passing was impossible. He was not moved, and only repeated his order that I had better pass or else.
I was very nervous when I returned to school because along with the weekend in detention, I spent an all expenses paid, month long vacation on the third floor of Memorial Hospital in the Juvenile Psychiatric Ward. I had been getting my assignments in the hospital and for lack of anything else to do I was actually catching up. My first week back everyone was nice but distant. Someone in my English class told me a few days after I came back that the teacher had warned everyone not to say a word to me about where I was and what had happened. I am sure they all knew.
We had been studying Shakespeare and we had a very important test coming up, which counted as four different tests all rolled into one. It just so happened to be on Romeo and Juliet, which I had read no less than five times in third grade. I remember being fascinated with how Shakespeare had worded his plays. I would recite lines while riding my bike back then. Remembering Mr. Grady’s stern warning, I studied and studied again. I reread the play several times refreshing the story in my mind.
The day had come and the teacher passed out the tests. I was nervous but I answered every question correctly. I knew this simply because I knew the story so well. As we were taking these tests she announced that there would be optional extra credit. For each detail we could name about each of the story’s characters, we would earn an extra point. I had finished the test itself fairly quickly, so I had plenty of time to list details about the characters. I took my time and listed them all.
The following Monday the teacher passed out the freshly graded tests as she cheerfully announced, “The highest grade from all four of my classes was made by a student in this room.”
There was a murmur and several people on the other side of the class all patted this guy on the shoulder, congratulating him. I remember the smug look on his face, and the look of satisfaction when the teacher said, “No it wasn’t Mr. E.”
Then there was the murmur again. I, like everyone else had grown curious. Our teacher always placed our tests face down so as not to embarrass anyone with a poor mark. She passed me several times and I heard several people say that it was not them. Then she stopped in front of my desk and said, “Out of a possible 116 points Mr. Vogel got 116 points.”
I was shocked, to say the least. The noise in the class got even louder, or so it seemed. I felt the heat rising in my face as all eyes were on me. The teacher continued to explain that the second highest grade had been nine points lower than mine. I was embarrassed, but in hindsight I understand that she was trying to impress upon me what had been missing for so long. She knew I needed someone to tell me, “Hey you did a damn good job and I’m proud of you.” I was very happy. The smoke began to clear and suddenly I realized my stepfather was wrong. I wasn’t stupid.
People in the class all congratulated me and told me I did a great job. Girls I didn’t even have the nerve to speak to were asking me for help on assignments. I made many new friends that I attribute to that moment. Before, I think I was seen as some weird dummy people would much rather steer clear of. 
It was the same in all my classes save one, Algebra. I chalked that up to it being a building process and I had missed half the steps. Even still, I tried very hard but just couldn’t pass it. I had some semblance of confidence. By the end of the year I passed five of the six classes I had spent half the year skipping. I even received a letter from the principal saying how proud he was of my improvement.
Ultimately, I finished the ninth grade with my head held high ready to take on the world and looking forward to my next adventure. There were many, and hopefully there are many more to come.
A Note: I have to add that the English teacher I had that year saved my life. It seems that looking back on the past 38 years that when I was at my lowest there was always someone there who reached out because somehow they saw through the act and knew I needed help. She was a great teacher and an even more wonderful person. I have tried in vain to look her up, I just can’t find her. She would be in her 80’s by now. Where ever she is I hope she knows she made a difference in at least one life. -JM
  

“Momma, What’s This Word Mean?”

(I wrote this in my first English class at Tri-C. The prompt was to write about a defining moment in our lives and I could think of none better.  🙂 – JM)

“Momma, What’s This Word Mean?”

Being told I had to repeat the first grade was the catalyst for a great defining moment in my life. It all started at the end of first grade during a parent teacher conference. The faculty had decided to place me in second grade; this confused my mother a great deal. She has told me since, that she always thought I was a bright child but had resigned to the fact I was slated to repeat the first grade. I couldn’t read a word, and my mother would not accept that that was “perfectly normal” for some kids my age.

Learning to read probably doesn’t sound like much of a defining moment and generally events happen suddenly, but I can think of no single event that has made such an impact on my life. I was young when this happened and was worried that I was now a year behind my friends, and me, in my infinite six-year old wisdom decided I must have been a dummy. I heard someone say, “no one fails the first grade.” That hurt me a great deal because I didn’t want to be different.

I’m not sure if it was that week, or the week following, but it was soon after this conference in which my mother demanded I repeat the first grade that my great change occurred. An unlikely thing to be appreciative for some may think, but I couldn’t be happier. My mother had always spent time with me, but like most parents she was under harsh time constraints; trying to raise my brother, my step brother and myself. I am not sure how she did it all. She’d get home at 5pm or so, cook dinner, help my brothers with their homework and do all the other household chores. My step father usually worked late back then, so she was on her own in the evenings.

Despite all her duties as a mother, which she never complained about, she somehow squeezed in my favorite time of day, “Reading with Momma time.” I can’t remember everything we read, but I still clearly remember sitting there at the kitchen table captivated as my mother taught me how to sound out the words. She spent the entire year I was repeating the first grade working with me every evening before bath time patiently listening to me stumble through the bigger words.

My mother’s hard work had paid off by the beginning of second grade, I could read the newspaper front to back and over again with little difficulty. I smile every time I think of my mom balancing her check book as I run into the kitchen she looks up, smiling, knowing the inevitable is coming, “Mommy what’s this word mean?” I’d ask anxious. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud as I was the moment I was presented with my very own Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. My mother was equally grateful I am sure, now she could get some peace. The first word I looked up was unabridged:

Unabridged (un-a-bridged)  n. a dictionary that has not been reduced in size by omission of terms or definitions; the most comprehensive edition of a given dictionary. After I read that definition I got even more excited. It was just a blue dictionary, one I nearly wore the cover off of over the years, but it was so much more to me. To me that silly book was like the world’s biggest decoder ring, and I used it as such.

I developed a voracious appetite for books. Reading never lost the novelty for me, even after all these years. I am always reading something. I so long for those simpler days when the only worries I had were how much later I could talk my mom into letting me stay up because I was dying to know what adventure the next chapter held.

You Guys Are Awesome

Good morning,

I am enjoying my literary foray into cyberspace a great deal more than I had envisioned. I have been reading randomly for hours over the past few days and I am enjoying the brilliance of so many great writers and people who are so anxious to help others. I find it awe inspiring. I have been trying to get my writing posted so I have been working on that a great deal and I am finding myself with burning eyes and a sore back from too many hours in this computer chair. I just don’t want to stop because I am enjoying this probably more than makes sense. I am getting insights on my writing, which is very important to me and I have stumbled upon several inspirational pieces which  I am certain were written especially for me. I just wanted to post this and say I appreciate you all. I appreciate the likes and the comments and the general support I have received since I began this project five days ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I am happy to say that I am quite pleased with my experience but that is solely due to you guys, the bloggers. Thank you.

– JM

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22 minutes

22 Minutes

(Saw a creepy guy and this story popped in my head)

 

Twenty-two minutes in the right circumstances could seem like an eternity or in others pass by in a flash. Twenty-two minutes was all Carl had left and he didn’t think it was going to pass by very slowly. He could scream and yell but what good would it do?

He had read stories and seen movies with killers doing what killers do, but this situation was beyond him. This man, if it was a man didn’t seem to be following the script of any normal portrayal of a killer. No, he was extremely unique.

In all the movies and books hadn’t the killer at least created some way to witness his murders? Didn’t he at least give the victim the illusion that he might change his dastardly plans by letting them beg? No this was something altogether different.

The tube, if that’s what it was, was stark barren and devoid of character beyond its harsh rust coated veneer.  From what Carl could see there wasn’t a window or opening of any sort. This he could feel by the stuffiness and the still dead air he was choking down. But why me?

Carl was no one special. He had a few people he didn’t care for but he had no real enemies. He wracked his brain and hopelessly he punched his own leg in frustration. It was all he could do suspended by his feet as he was. Carl wasn’t even sure how he got here. His head throbbed and upon inspection he found a rather serious knot above his right temple.

What this was about, Carl had no inclination. He vaguely remembered the man or was it a man? He had to of been extremely strong to take big ole Carl out like he did. Felled by a single blow?  Carl shook the thought off. Carl figured he must have hit him with a baseball bat or something. No man could do so much with a single punch. Carl was known for his brawling skills and of this he was most proud.

“Twenty- two minutes,” is all the man had said, “Twenty-two minutes you have yet to live.”

When Carl protested and yelled and begged and threatened his cries, pleas, and threats were met with dull silence. The man had left and the door sealed behind him with no sinister laughing or threatening creaks it just shut.

The silence is what cut through Carl’s usual exterior of toughness. Carl felt that no amount of threats or taunts could be worse. He felt the room shrinking around him. He started to pray. He prayed a hopeless sinner’s prayer.  “God, please help me.”

When the man thing had spoken it had been 11:38 and Carl reluctantly looked at his watch. It was hard to make out because Carl’s eyes had blurred from the pressure building in his head from hanging upside down for how long he did not know. It was 11:55 now.

The sweat poured from Carl in torrents. He could hear the drops as they splashed on the metal floor of his prison. Then the door slid open and in the doorway stood the man thing. Carl for the first time caught a glimpse of its face and true panic set in.

Carl felt a lurch as the hoist began to lower him towards the floor twenty feet below. The room went dark. Carl could hear something on the floor below him. Fifteen feet. They were everywhere. Scurrying about. Ten feet. What are they? What are those things in the darkness? He can hear their teeth clicking and their anxious starving mouths. Five feet.

“Feast my children feast.” Now Carl finally understood.

 

The Picture

(I was inspired to write this story by a picture in the office of the CEO where I worked while in college. The picture was of the CEO’s daughter and as beautiful as she was her eyes always seemed to follow me around the room as I worked. This unnerved me a bit and I decided to write a story about it. I hope you enjoy. -jm)

 

The Picture

 

It was bitterly cold when he arrived at work. In his haste he sliced his hand on the old ragged door handle as he was frantically trying to force his key in the lock. Inside dripping blood he tripped over the rug in the foyer of the decrepit office building where he worked. He righted himself and disarmed the alarm with only a few seconds to spare. He was running late and he knew his five minute tardiness would cost him fifteen minutes of pay. Didn’t seem fair to him but who was he to argue.

Johnny was often stuck on what was fair and what wasn’t. It was a mantra he repeated over and over. He repeated it at school where he struggled to stay above a 3.5 grade point average because he worked a shit job for shit money and was barely getting by while all these kids wandered around without a care in the world. He resented them all. “Not fair, not fair, not fair.” He mumbled as he passed them in the hall.

“So why should today be any different?” His work day hadn’t even begun and he had already made things considerably harder on himself. He clocked in on the dreaded Kronos keypad which never seemed to want to read his thumb print. This he felt was unfair. “If you treat your employees like criminals they will act like criminals.” He blurted this nearly every time he would try and fail to clock in.  Several times this prevented him from clocking in entirely. On both occasions his check had been shorted a full eight hours. “Unfair, unfair, unfair!” He ranted to the empty hallway when he opened his checks. It took payroll four weeks to correct the error because everyone was gone before he even arrived and he could never get anyone on the phone between classes.  “Did they care I went three days without eating during exams? No because it’s fucking unfair!”

He often talked to himself in here just to hear something other than the sounds he made as he cleaned. Anything was better than the sounds the old building made. As the weather grew worse the building seemed to become livelier. This he could easily explain to himself. It of course had to be the wind or the old plumbing. He was a smart guy and not prone to flights of fancy. He didn’t believe in the paranormal. He only believed in the here and now but somehow and in some way this building was getting to him.

He noticed after wrapping the jagged wound on his hand that he had gotten blood on the companies teal and white logo printed into the rug in the foyer when he fell. “Unfucking Fair!” he blurted. “Why does this shit keep happening to me?” He was a klutz in every sense of the word. He was only graceful behind a computer screen with his hands on a keyboard knee deep in zeros and ones. He could type in binary as easy as he could in English. It was what he had always been great at but no one would give his resume a second glance without college credentials. “Unfucking fair!”

His hand ached as he hopelessly scrubbed the bright crimson stain. His efforts seemed only to smear it more than anything else. The first aid kit had only small butterfly band aids and they weren’t enough to quell the bleeding so he made a bandage from paper towels and taped it to his hand. “Is anything going to go my way today?” He sneered at the bloody mess on the rug.  He got some but not all of the blood out and this took him over an hour. He knew he’d be hearing about this if his boss decided to pop in unannounced as was his method. “Trying to catch the criminals red handed are we?” He was convinced this was his boss’s only pleasure in life.

He was now over an hour behind schedule and he wasn’t feeling well. The cut on his hand needed stitches but he couldn’t afford to go to the hospital and miss work. He had tuition to pay and books to buy. “Unfair.” He mumbled as he began his rounds.

He begrudgingly emptied the trash and vacuumed the offices but as the night drug on he felt weaker and weaker. He packed a lunch but was to nauseas to eat it and besides he was so far behind he would never get finished on time if he took a break.

It was almost midnight before he started the last hall. “This is where all the big wigs work,” he mused aloud. He followed a pattern which didn’t make much sense even to him. He would avoid the CEO’s office and clean all the rest first. He always saved it for last. This last hallway is what really bothered him about the building. He felt so out of sorts and even on hot days in the summer this whole area of the building was chilly. In winter when the rest of the building was uncomfortably warm from the massive unit on the roof the hallway remained cool and in some spots downright cold, but none worse than the CEO’s office.

It was well after one when he entered the last office. The room was quite homey and warm for an office he thought except for the chill in the room. It had a large mahogany desk with six matching bookshelves and a matching conference table. There were books of all sorts. Many psychology books and accounting volumes mixed with various religious texts. Some in languages he didn’t recognize. One day out of curiosity he did some research and discovered what languages these books were in. There were books printed in Hebrew, Russian, Romanian, Latin, and several extremely old volumes printed in German. He had never met the man who sat in this big chair behind this big desk but he thought he might like him. He was clean and very well organized. From the looks of all the books he owned he couldn’t possibly be dumb like most everyone else he meets.

He spoke aloud, “one day I’ll have a desk like this and my own big office. One day this will all be mine.” He actually smiled and despite his growing dizziness and the ever present throbbing in his hand he went about his duties more cheerfully than he had felt all night. He always cleaned the back half of the office first saving the desk and sitting area for last. There in an ancient silver frame behind leaded glass was a beautiful young woman peering out at him. The frame had to of cost a fortune he thought because of all the ornamentation. There were dozens of crosses hand hammered into the silverwork. The glass itself had tiny etchings all around the border. He tried and tried to make out what they were. He wasn’t sure if the etchings were just a fine pattern or if it were actual script of some kind.

The thing he found most curious about the picture and the exquisite frame was the fact that each time he sees the woman gazing out at him it’s like seeing her for the first time. He realized as he stood there vacantly staring that he had no recollection of it ever being there before but it must have. He remembers cleaning it. He always hand dusted the frame carefully and he was extremely careful when he cleaned the glass for fear of breaking such an heirloom. “Why can’t I remember you when I leave?” He asked the woman.

He felt a sudden chill as in answer to his query and the room grew dim. He felt as if he would feint and he realized as he began to fall that he was holding the frame to his chest. When had he picked it up? Why was he holding it clutched to his chest like a mad man? He fell into darkness. When he woke he wasn’t sure how long he had been lying there. His first thought was panic. He frantically searched the floor but the picture and frame were not shattered on the floor as he feared. He gained his feet and saw it was sitting safely where it had been when he entered. The woman gazed upon him with seeming adoration for his concern for her safety. That thought chilled him deeply.

He noticed his makeshift bandage had torn loose and he had begun to bleed again luckily most of the blood was on his shirt and not the floor. He knew it was late and knew if he clocked out after two he’d get a reprimand so he hurried around the office making sure everything was in place. He adjusted the picture one last time and in doing so he smeared blood on the frame. “Unfair!” He yelled as he ran to the storage room to fix his bandage and to grab the silver polish.

By the time he entered the office he couldn’t remember why he was going back until he saw her and he remembered. “The blood, damn I’m losing it.” He was not at all feeling well but wasn’t sure why a cut would make him feel so bad. He searched the frame front and back and carefully scanned the glass but there was no sign of blood. He couldn’t even find a single finger print on the glass anywhere. It wasn’t just clean it was pristine. It appeared to have never been touched by a human hand.

He gave the woman one last puzzled glance and walked out of the office. He was done for the night and he relished the idea of going home and properly bandaging his hand eating a sandwich and passing out. He grabbed his things knowing it had to be two or a little after and to his horror it was nearly six in the morning.

He had no rational explanation for why he was still at work at six in the morning. He didn’t remember falling and at this point he couldn’t even remember cutting his hand. His entire mind went blank. He remembered checking the time a little after one then entering the CEO’s office cleaning it and that shouldn’t have been more than thirty minutes tops. “Why am I here?” He questioned the empty hallway.

He felt a sharp surge of pain in his wounded hand. He looked at it astonished not remembering how or when he cut it. “I must have a fever. It’s got to be an infection.  Fuck it I’m going to the hospital.”

As was his habit he always checked the foyer before leaving because that’s the first place everyone sees when they walk in. Everything was clean and in order right down to the bright white and teal rug. He wondered how a rug with such bright colors stayed so perfectly clean.

Hospitals were a place of dread for him but he felt so bad he didn’t think he had a choice but to go. Even so early in the morning he had to wait. “Unfair!” He muttered halfheartedly. That’s the last thing he remembered. He woke late that evening alone in a communal room with three other empty beds. He was very confused and completely oblivious as to how he got there.

He found the call button and paged the nurse. “Oh good you’re awake.” came the voice of a very cheery nurse. She was all teeth and smiles. He liked her instantly. “You’ve had a busy day haven’t you dear?”

“What happened to me?” He asked in a hushed tone. His mouth was so dry he could barely swallow.

“Well we were hoping you could tell us. You signed in at about half past six and told the nurse you cut yourself and you might be infected. When the orderly came out to bring you back you were unconscious. That cut on your hand is serious. You nearly bled to death. What we can’t figure out is why you weren’t covered in blood when you came in. Even your bandage was clean.” She paused seeing the quizzical expression on his face then she gave her biggest tooth filled smile yet. “We do appreciate people cleaning up before coming to see us but honey you should have just called an ambulance.” Then her expression still very sweet became grave, “You could have died from losing that much blood.”

“I don’t understand. I don’t remember bleeding.” He had no recollection of anything other than going to work.

“Honey I’m going to get the doctor and he can explain this to you a little better than me. He’ll be glad to see you’re awake.” She smiled and walked away.

He was completely bewildered and confused. Then he remembered school and work and was starting to rise just as the doctor entered. “Take it easy there buddy. You’ve had a very rough day even if you don’t remember most of it.” The doctor was a portly man in his fifties. He had a grace unusual in someone with his stature. Johnny watched as he glided around the bed like he was in some sort of ballet.

“The nurse tells me you are having trouble remembering what happened. Maybe that will come back to you when you regain your strength. Your body has been through quite an ordeal. When you cut your hand you grazed an artery. Perhaps you did it at work thinking it was no big deal but it’s my guess that at some point during the night you banged it and fully punctured the artery causing severe blood loss. I’m not trying to alarm you but had you lost any more blood we wouldn’t have been able to save you. “

“Doctor I truly don’t know how I did this or what happened to me after. I don’t remember a bunch of blood I don’t.” He stammered more confused than ever.

“It’s alright so don’t worry about that now. You’re safe and we are gonna get ya back on your feet in a day or two and you’ll be right as rain.” The doctor turned to walk away.

“My job, school?” He stammered.

“Well I’ll have notes for both for the week. All that can wait, what’s most important is that you’re healthy.” With that the doctor smiled and left.

He found his cell phone on the table next to his bed. He tried calling his boss but he didn’t answer. He didn’t have anyone else to call. His parents were both gone and he had no family nearby. He had no close friends to ask for help. He was alone in this world and it wasn’t until this did he realize it. He had liked plenty of girls at school but it was like he didn’t exist. He wasn’t clever enough to be the class clown and he wasn’t athletic enough to be an athlete. Now in college he is even less noticeable. He keeps his head in his work. He occasionally sees a cute girl but the thought of actually walking up to one and speaking is more than he can bear. “Jesus man you almost died a virgin today at 21 years old and no one would have noticed.” He mumbled to himself and quickly fell deeply asleep.

He dreamt of the woman in the frame. She came to him right there in his hospital bed naked and inviting. It was the most vivid of dreams. He could smell her perfume. He could feel the warmth of her skin. He could feel her lips on his. Greedily tasting him like a predator about to devour her pray. He could feel her nails digging into his skin. He could feel her silky smooth hair on his bare chest.  The dream seemed endless. Time and again she had him all the while whispering to him in a language he could not comprehend yet when it was ending he begged her not to stop. “You are mine now.” She kissed him and simply faded away. He woke with a start nearly jumping out of bed.

“Don’t go!” He shouted as the nurse calmed him.

“It was just a dream honey.” She smiled but her smile did little to ease his panic. “It’s a side effect of the medications we had to put you on.”

He stared blankly at the ceiling for a long moment feeling his heart slow and the sweat evaporate from his brow it was then he felt the scratches on his back and chest. He put his hand to them they stung and burned hot and he saw there were tiny traces of blood. “She scratched you up good.” Aloud he said attracting the nurse’s attention. “Sorry nothing just mumbling out loud to myself.”  He told her. As he dozed off he tried so very hard to remember what he had been dreaming about. The nurse added something to his IV and he slowly drifted off to a peaceful night’s sleep.

He woke to his cell phone at ten the next morning it took him a minute to get his bearings enough to answer. It was his boss and he almost refused the call. What can they do I had an actual medical emergency. “Hello.” He answered in his least cheerful voice dreading what his boss would have to say.

“So you no called no showed for work last night, got anything you want to tell me?” His boss was an ass under the best circumstances but today it was ok because he was safe and his boss couldn’t do a damn thing about it. This cheered him up immensely.

“Yeah I guess. But one question first, did anyone find an unusually large pool of blood in the building yesterday morning?” He knew this would have his boss guessing.

“Well no, should they have? What’s happened?” He grinned, hearing actual concern coming from his boss the hater of all things good.

“Well at some point the night before last I cut myself somehow and I nicked an artery. Apparently I busted it open at work.  I’m having some memory problems from all the blood loss. The doc says I nearly died.” He stopped to see how his boss would answer.

“Did you get hurt here? Cuz if you did I’ll have to write a report.” The concern had faded.

“I just told ya I don’t know how I did it. I can’t remember anything but going to work and leaving work.  But I was extremely out of it. I could barely drive myself to the ER.” He left it at that.

“I’m heading over to your building to see if I see any blood anywhere. I’ll call you back and let you know what I find. I’ll have someone fill your shift.” He abruptly hung up sounding more annoyed with each word he spoke.

“Asshole.” He spouted then went back to sleep.

He slept until late that night. When he woke there were four figures in the room. It was dark and he couldn’t make out who they were. “Hello, what’s going on?”

The overhead lights flickered on and Johnny shielded his eyes. After a moment he could see two people he recognized. One was his asshole boss and the other was a man he had seen only in company newsletters. It was the man with the big office, the CEO of the company he cleaned for. He gave a wary smile and said “Johnny we haven’t met but I think you know who I am.”

“Yeah I’ve seen you’re pictures, I know who you are.” It’s then he realized the two men he didn’t know were detectives. They each had badges clipped to their belts. “Am I in some kind of trouble?”

“Well son that’s what we’re here to find out. When your boss came in my office and apprised me of your phone exchange I was concerned first of all because you said you nearly died. The second concern and forgive me for sounding insensitive, but you said you nearly died at work. So I wanted to find some answers for you and for us. You do understand I have to protect the company and if some crime were perpetrated against you at work we need to find and prosecute the offender.”

Just then the doctor walked in and politely greeted the men and before he could speak Johnny asked, “Doc could you tell them what kind of shape I was in when I got here?”

The doctor explained how life threatening this was and how much blood was lost. He explained that the amnesia of the incident could be a symptom of shock from whatever happened.

One of the detectives spoke up and said we have a video we’d like you to take a look at. He produced a small laptop and started the footage. It was the front door of his building. He watched as he got out of his car and ran to the door and he watched as he cut his hand attempting to open the door. Even from the grainy video you could see blood pouring from the open wound. He could even see the blood spilling on the white rug as he fell. His face felt hot like he truly was in trouble. At this point the officer sped the video up for a moment then stopped. He watched as he spent over an hour trying to clean the blood from the stark white rug sped up to take only moments. Then he fast forwarded the video all through the night. The camera caught a glimpse each time he passed the door. He noticed there were digital markers on the video that automatically paused, each time you could see him by the door.

The detective stopped the video and said this is what we can’t explain.” Please try and remember and tell me if you recognize this person. It’s important. “

He was utterly confused all the video was showing was that he was doing his job. Hurt but still working. There was no one there with him was there? He was always alone in there. “Ok. I’m a little more than confused who are you talking about?”

“Just watch,” said the second detective whom up until this point hadn’t moved a muscle. He startled Johnny a bit.

So this time at the next marker it stopped. He saw as he walked past the door on his way to the last hallway. The marker said 1:23 a.m. Ok here it comes please watch carefully. At marker 1:35 a.m. a figure walked past the door. It wasn’t Johnny. Johnny you could easily see wearing a bright red hoodie and blue jeans. This was a woman but is it a woman? Her hair looked old and mangled and the skin was white and dead like something from a zombie movie. Her clothes were rotted and tattered barely hanging on just as her skin barely clung to her bones.

“I don’t understand? Who was in there with me? Did they do something to me? Did you see their car when they left?” Johnny was actually scared. It truly dawned on him that someone or something took his blood.

The quiet detective spoke up, “son we don’t have any more answers than you do. You sure you don’t recognize her? “

“It looks like a fucking zombie but that shit isn’t real. Is it some sick joke people dressing up like they’re dead siphoning people’s blood?” Johnny was livid.

“I wouldn’t normally show you this but considering the circumstances I will. If I were you I would want to know what I was dealing with,” calmly replied the detective with the laptop.

He started the video again and the thing walked back in sight of the camera and stopped. It got down on its hands and knees and from the video it appeared to be sucking the blood out of the carpet. It opened the door and with a grotesquely elongated tongue licked the door handle clean and crawled across the floor sucking up every drop of his spilled blood.

“What was that?” Johnny was half hysterical by this point. Every man in the room looked uneasy.

“Son we don’t have any answers for you. We have people now checking all local surveillance tapes with any hopes of catching a glimpse of this woman. We took a forensics team and scoured every inch of that building. There was no sign of anything afoul. They took the rug from the entrance to test for DNA and we found yours but the saliva we tested did not come back as human. It’s an animal species not in any database.

Johnny was speechless a moment then broke into angry hysterics. “An animal? An animal that looks like a 200 year old woman sucked out my blood? I don’t believe in this shit! Was it a werewolf or a zombie or a fucking old ass vampire? I don’t even know how to react to this. Am I gonna turn into a fucking dog or a bat?”

The doctor had been present this entire time but hadn’t spoken until now. “Son we’ve sent your blood in for analysis but with this new information I think we need to do some further testing. The problem is we gave you a fairly large blood transfusion so any tests we would do would not be conclusive until the blood has been in your system a while. There are other tests we can do and it might be a good idea to treat you for rabies. If you were infected it is possible the new blood could have hid that from us.”

“Fuck me!” Johnny said and he surprised himself because he didn’t say unfair.

None of the men knew where to go from here. The CEO was at a loss, he didn’t want a story like this coming out turning his business into a circus tent. The detectives told Johnny they wanted to have an officer there in case this was a targeted attack against him personally. That didn’t do much to ease the anxiety he was feeling after having half his blood sucked out by the dog faced girl. At this thought something familiar popped into his mind. Didn’t he know her? Didn’t he love her? But that was a monster that wasn’t the beautiful woman from the frame.

“Oh shit, I know who that is!” He gave everyone in the room a start. The doctor nearly dropped a blood sample he was labeling the nurse nearly dropped his dinner tray as she entered.

The detectives, the CEO, Johnny’s boss and all were all ears. But then he slowly began, “I told ya I don’t believe in all this voodoo shit but who is the girl in the silver frame on the desk in your office?” He directed the question to the CEO.

The CEO looked confused and then said I don’t truly know. I was in Romania a few years back and I found it in an antiques store. The old lady told me it was a witch trap. I thought it was just some old wives tell that helps boost sales. There are lots of old tales in small villages in that part of the world of vampires and demons. I bought it for the silverwork. Some of the finest I have ever seen. Why do you ask?”

“Please just humor me a second would ya. I already feel like the world’s gone crazy please continue and when you’re done I’ll explain.” Johnny was quite shaken but very focused on what he was hearing.

“I was going to replace the picture but I had it looked at by a reputable antiques dealer and he laughed at the thought of me opening it. The only way to get the picture out would be to destroy a 500 year old piece of handmade glass that’s etched with very tiny runes dating back to the time of the druids. So I left it as is. Then he said and I quote ‘would be unwise to release the witch trapped inside. She has 500 years of wrath to unleash. For a true witch can nigh be destroyed, only kept for a while.’” The CEO usually a fairly rigid sort seemed weakened by what he was saying.

Johnny surveyed the room and asked, “Is there more? Did he tell you more? Please it’s important.”

No one protested they had all save the nurse seen the video so the CEO went on. “He then laughed and said yes in those days they would take anyone believed to be a witch and have the best painter available come and do a portrait. For paint they used parts of her body ground up into paste.  You’d be surprised how many colors one can garner when using the human body as a medium. It was quite barbaric. They would take these parts from her while she was alive and in agony she would be made to sit still for weeks if necessary until the portrait was perfect. It wasn’t until then I knew it wasn’t a photograph. When I bought it I had no idea it was an actual painting. So if the painter wasn’t good she might have to sit all hacked up through multiple sessions. He also said from the looks of the frame she must have been considered to be an extremely powerful witch. There were over 200 runes and holy marks on that frame. It must have taken four skilled artisans a full six months to construct. Once the portrait was complete the witch would be slowly tortured to death by whatever means they deemed fitting and all that would be before her was her own portrait. They removed the eyelids and cauterized the wound so she would have no choice but to stare at her own face. Upon death the belief was a witch’s essence could transfer to any other living thing until she found a suitable host.” The CEO knew how crazy the story he recounted was but after what he’d seen and heard today he didn’t think it would stand out much. He concluded by saying, “By forcing her to stare into her own image she would become trapped inside the frame. He said he’s only seen two in his entire life and the first was a fake he offered me $20,000 cash there on the spot but I declined the offer. “

Johnny cleared his throat and thought to himself before speaking then after an awkward pause he began, “look go ahead and fit me for a strait jacket because that thing in the video is that girl on your desk.  I know it sounds completely crazy but my God I am being very serious.”

Everyone looked at him as if he had a third eyeball instantly appear on his forehead. “Listen I know how crazy it sounds. This is Occam’s razor gone mad. Think about it. Occam’s razor basically states the simplest answer is usually the right answer. Ok so something resembling a woman with animal DNA sucked out a bunch of my blood then ran around the building sucking up all the evidence. You tell me that there is no sign of her leaving the building from the security cameras and this guy just happens to have a 500 year old witch trap in his office. I have never believed in stuff like this but you just showed me video of a creature with a foot long tongue that sort of looks like a woman but doesn’t who was alone with me in a building for God knows how long doing God knows what to me and y’all are looking at me crazy?”

No one knew how to reply and as insane as it sounded Johnny actually made sense. They left after a few more mundane questions. They asked to search his car to see if he had lost any blood in there but he hadn’t. It was a dead end. Save for the little on his hoodie none of his blood was accounted for and that disturbed all of them. With a little help from the nurse Johnny fell fast asleep after everyone had left.

She came to him again that night and before she was on him he stopped her and asked “did they really hurt you like that?”

Her beautiful face changed into the grotesque deformed figure they had hacked her into before she died. He could see her swollen red eyes lidless and in great pain. He felt anguish for her. He could feel the fear she was feeling but there was no hate in her. All the malice and rage came from those screaming around her for her to die. She looked ashamed for him to see her this way and her face went back to normal. She wept and curled up with him in his bed careful not to pull out his IV.

“Are you really here?” Johnny asked and she just stared lovingly into his eyes He could feel her as surely as he could feel the stitches in his aching hand. “You are real aren’t you?”

She smiled and nodded “yes I am very real.”

“What do I do?” He was uneasy and unsure of how to feel. He felt what she felt as they slowly tortured her and murdered her. Whatever she was she wasn’t evil or bad and she didn’t deserve that shit.

“I am sorry I took so much of your blood. You were bleeding badly and you didn’t even notice. I was afraid you would die. You always spoke so sweetly to me when you saw me. I needed the strength to heal you enough to get you to help. You’re innocence is what released me at least partially. I look grotesque and frightening. I can’t be fully whole until my portrait is released.”

Johnny looked at her and smiled, “let’s go get you out.”

She stopped him with a kiss, “wait, I’m frightened.”

“That makes two of us, “he smiled and unhooked his IV and hurriedly dressed.

She whispered, “I’ll be waiting for you.”

Johnny slipped out past the guard who was dozing at his post and made a hasty and uneventful escape from the hospital. He hailed a cab and was on his way in minutes. He had the cabby drop him off a few blocks away and snuck in through a storage room he and the other janitors had keys for. There were still cops outside but he discovered he was alone in the familiar hallway he had dreaded for so long. There was an alarm but it wasn’t set due to the police presence so he was lucky on that point.

He made his way to the CEO’s office and was shocked to see the picture was not in its usual position but after a few long seconds he found it. It was on the conference table with empty coffee cups surrounding it. He imagined they probably had a good laugh at his expense.

He held the picture in his trembling hands and spoke aloud to the empty room, “God please be real. I hope I haven’t gone insane. Well here goes nothing.” He took a stainless steel stapler and very carefully cracked the glass below her face for fear he would somehow damage her.

At first nothing happened he just stood there trembling half crazed with anticipation and just when he was coming to the realization that he had gone mad he heard her voice say put me down.  He did as she told him and the frame started to shake and lift off the table. It was really happening. The brightest light he had ever seen filled the room and in the light he could see her distorted form from the video but it slowly changed and she was once again the lovely girl in the picture.

She ran to him arms wide and showered him with kisses. “You saved me,” she had the thickest most beautiful accent he had ever heard. She bumped his hand and he yelped from the pain. “Oh here my darlin, let me.”

She took his hand in hers and a glow began to emanate around his injured hand and he could feel it healing. It itched uncontrollably for only a moment and then stopped. He pulled off the bandages and he was fully healed.

“What’s your name?” He stammered.

Before she could answer they heard them coming through the doors. The flash of light had alerted the officers outside and by now they knew he wasn’t in the hospital anymore. “They will take you away. We have to get out of here.”

His warning came too late. They were nearly to the office and he stepped in front of her. I won’t let them. I’ll think of some excuse I work here.

To his dismay it was the quiet detective and he knew all about the frame and what he had said. They were trapped. He wouldn’t let them take her he couldn’t. “Step away from her Johnny. I thought this whole story was bullshit but you had to see for yourself?”

“You don’t understand she’s not bad, she saved me that night. She didn’t cut my hand that was an accident and if she hadn’t of helped me I would have died right here in this office two nights ago.”

“Johnny if you don’t move I’m going to taze you and I’ll shoot that evil bitch if she so much as blinks!” The detective wasn’t going to budge he was convinced she was evil and nothing Johnny could say would change that. Johnny could see how unfamiliar fear looked on this man’s face.

Before Johnny could speak again the detective tried to shoot him with his Taser but in mid trigger pull a book flew off a bookshelf and knocked it from his hand. It along with the book thudded uselessly to the ground.

“What the fuck just happened?” Shouted another officer Johnny didn’t recognize standing to the right of the detective.

“Please just calm down and stop this. She’s not dangerous. The detective was edging towards his Taser. He slowly picked it up and said, “bitch try that again and you’re dead. “

“I won’t let you hurt him. He set me free. He is my hero and he is mine forever. “Her expression was very calm but her voice was commanding. This frightened the officers even more and again he tried to use his Taser and this time she sent a book from either side of the room crushing his Taser hand between them.

The officer to the right of the detective fired at the girl but Johnny dove in front and took the bullet for her. He crumpled at her feet and she screamed she knelt over her dying love and wept. “I will not let you die my love.”

She stood to her full height and she spoke in a voice which seemed to come from the walls themselves. The officer who fired looked on bewildered and the detective nursing his crushed hand tried to back out of the room. “In nature there is a balance that must be paid. For there to be life there must be death. This man has not wronged you yet your actions have slain him and thus the debt must be paid. From each of you I take half your life to repay the one you have stolen.” With a single flick of her wrist the detective and the officer were encased in the same light which she had used to heal Johnny’s hand but it was much larger and brighter.  She conducted the light with slight gestures of her nimble fingers and directed it into Johnny’s lifeless body.

When he woke he opened his eyes and he saw she had been crying. He smiled up at her and her down at him. “Lilith, my name is Lilith.”

 

October (a short story)

October

The old man sat stolidly surveying the wind-blown yard. He silently remembered every October which had come and gone in these past thirty years since he had turned his back on his one true love. He had spent so many years trying to twist the memories in his own mind so he could believe that he was not to blame.

No one could believe the story he screamed when the police had first arrived. He had been called a murderer, a lunatic, and many other terrible names. No matter who questioned him or how long they kept him in the sanitarium and despite the laundry list of experimental medications he never changed his story.

The detectives were vexed for an explanation which was made quite evident by their stuttering testimonies. These testimonies and a brief statement from a psychiatrist are what kept the old man from the electric chair but he was still remanded to the state psychiatric hospital for more than three years.

The old man recounted every detail fighting the chill this new October’s wind brought. He was ready. He wouldn’t run anymore. “This is where it started and this is where it shall end.” He spoke aloud with a hushed tone to the brown grass and the dead swirling leaves.

The veteran detective was hung up on a detail that neither he nor anyone else present that night could explain. What had happened to the woman’s body? The couple had just arrived home from a late movie where their neighbors had also been present and they had each pulled into their adjoining drives only minutes apart. The events that had taken place that night happened in mere moments.  The detective had conveyed this all to the jury with a cold horror filled face. Then as if speaking out loud in a dream he questioned, “Where had all the blood come from?”

The grizzled old detective concluded, “There was enough blood present at the scene of this atrocity to fill the veins of two full grown men. I do not understand this at all. In all my thirty-four years as a police officer I have never seen anything half as horrible as what I found that night.” He paused briefly and cleared his throat; he was trembling at the thoughts eating away at his subconscious. He wanted to scream demons or monsters did it but he knew he’d find himself in the sanitarium right alongside this poor man who had witnessed God knows what.

He shakily continued his testimony, “After further investigation it became clear that the blood we found came from at least six other victims. The blood that was present could not have been from the defendant’s wife because her blood type is type-O-negative and not one drop of her blood was found anywhere on the property. It is my professional opinion that this man is innocent and that we should be searching for a group of severely demented individuals.” He closed his eyes as he concluded and images of demons filled his mind.

The old man pulled his collar close around his wrinkled neck fighting the chill this memory had given him. That had been a full year after the “incident”. He mused at how polite the word “incident” was. That’s how they always referred to it in the sanitarium. He remembered how frightened he had been even a year after. The medications never eased his anguish or made him feel safe. No sane explanations could take away the terror which greeted him each and every night when the lights went low. No, nothing but death would ease his fear. Death he did not fear. Becoming is what he had feared most. Now, thirty years later even that paled in comparison to what he now knew was his greatest fear.

Three years after the incident and two after the trial he was released. He had begun lying in his therapy sessions. Telling the doctors he truly couldn’t remember what had happened to his wife. When asked he assured them that it was not demons or monsters which he had screamed at the top of his lungs for well over a year. He admitted something horrible had happened and in his confusion and grief of seeing his wife’s abduction by masked men he had lost his sense of reality. It had worked and he had been set free.

The first October after his release had nearly been his last. She had come so quickly from the darkness he had nearly been overcome. Despite the liquor coursing through his veins pure fear pushed him onwards through the locked door he had crashed in a full run. The door jamb splintered and gave way under his massive build.

As he remembered this night it seemed his chill doubled as if his bones were encased in ice. He had landed hard in the small foyer. The house was virtually unchanged from the night of the incident except for three years’ worth of dust layered upon every surface. He was certain he was having some sort of break down like so many of the other patients he had encountered in his stay at the sanitarium.

Then he heard her giggle. It resurrected feelings he had long since forgotten. How odd to hear such a welcoming warm sound from the cold unforgiving night. How could this be he thought. Then he slowly turned and his eyes fell on her. She was beautiful and young standing there in his doorway, their doorway. She did not enter but only gazed at him with longing, hungry eyes.

The old man jerked like he had suddenly awoken from a dream of falling. Two boys were noisily making their way down the sidewalk. They each gave the old man a wary glance and grew quiet as they passed in front of his house. They whispered as they moved on. He knew what they were saying. The story had become an urban legend in the neighborhood. A story told to the young to frighten them at sleepovers. Some versions say he ate her before the cops arrived. Others tell that he walled her up and that she is still in the house all these years later alive and well behind the living room wall. There is no end to the imaginations of children he supposed. He held no malice for these kids, he only envied their innocence because if they knew what really happened they would piss themselves and run home crying.

Things had changed over the years. He was no longer the lumbering hulk of his youth. He had become merely a shadow of his former self.  Each year she would come in October. The same Friday they had had dinner at the drive in. The same night they had laughed and talked of having a boy and a girl over hotdogs. The same night they had watched some cheap thriller and he held her close in his arms. She feeling safe from his embrace and him feeling safe from the love she had given him. In his bachelor years he had never believed someone could love him. When he met her his life was flipped upside down and turned inside out. He couldn’t speak around her without putting his foot in his mouth. The attraction had been mutual.

As he remembered how they met a smile crept onto his withered lips making him look so much younger than his years. He was all grease from head to toe driving a 48’ Dodge he had parted together from local junkyards. She was the prettiest thing he had ever seen in her bubble-gum pink poodle skirt with matching ribbons in her long dark hair. They had run into each other at the malt shop as he was entering and she was exiting. He had been horrified when he saw he had gotten a grease smudge on her blouse but she sheepishly assured him that it was ok.

She looked so perfect to him and the thought of that smudge haunted him ceaselessly so each and every afternoon he waited until he finally saw her again. He convinced her that he should buy her another outfit despite the fact she had made her own she had argued but he would not hear it. Any chance he had to see her he took. She was shy but she longed to see him just as much.

As he sat in the cold watching his last sunset he had tears on his tired cheeks as he remembered the love they had shared. They had been so very happy. Then the shame flooded into him as he remembered. He wept and thudded his big hand on the arm of his rocking chair. “I’m sorry.” He sobbed to the empty yard. “Please forgive me.”

On her yearly visits she would stand outside the door and he knew she wasn’t alone. He could hear the others and on the following mornings he would find small puddles of blood around the yard. Sometimes even dripping from the awning as if they had hovered above his roof but they never came into view. She had never tried to come inside and he always wondered why. The first visit she just watched cheerfully as he gaped from the floor disbelieving what he was seeing. She had stayed until nearly dawn and like the mist on a cold morning vanished with the warmth of the sun.

He quivered as he recalled the night she was taken from him. They were walking the short distance from the drive to the porch and instantly she was gone and he found himself flying across the yard. He looked back to find her but she was being dragged away and to his disbelief upward. The creature had the silhouette of a man but no man can fly. He remembered the smell, noxious like rotting meat. Had his terror not been so great he was sure he would have choked on the smell. He rose and started in her direction but then he saw them. They were all around, he froze in fear and even as she screamed for help he scrambled backwards and darted into the house. Her screams continued only a moment more and were then silenced. He knew she was gone.

The sun was now gone and he sat silently in the ever growing darkness. It was quite cold now. The sky darkened further as the first October storm rolled in. He could see his breath and he wondered how long she would make him wait. He had never stayed outside always sure to be in doors with some sort of protection. He wasn’t frightened of her. He was frightened of going on alone. He had spent nearly thirty years alone longing for her.  The thought of one more day was more than he could bear. That prospect was far worse than death. It even outweighed death at the hands of her companions and becoming what they had made her.

The two boys were walking back down the street early the next morning. It was very cold and rainy outside. They were bundled up so tightly trying to hide their faces from the brutal wind that they almost didn’t see the old man motionless on his front porch. They stopped to take a closer look. Despite the bite in the air and the rain the boys found courage in the early light. They slowly approached the old man.

One boy stopped halfway up the walk. There was a nasty looking puddle on the ground he couldn’t quite make out what it was but before he could inspect it any further his friend said “oh man, I don’t think he’s moving.”

The boy who had been inspecting the puddle joined his friend on the steps of the old man’s porch. They slowly approached together. Just as they reached the old man’s lifeless body a huge gust of wind moved the rocker causing the boys to scream and run.

The old man’s eyes were wide. There was a gleeful smile on his old withered face and in his clinched fist was a bubble gum pink ribbon.

I like to Write :)

Hello

My name is Jeff and I like to write stories. I’m not famous for this nor am I likely to ever be famous for anything much less writing. I enjoy it and I will post a story here now and again. If they are here then people can choose to read or not read them at their own discretion. My first post was of course about my Susie; it is a brief glimpse at the life and struggle we went through together.

I was aloft in this world drifting like a feather in any direction the wind chose to send me. I had no focus, motivation, and even less responsibility. Once I met Susie all that changed. I went from this directionless feather into a hyper-motivated student, bouncer, janitor, aspiring writer, aspiring Networking professional, with a single minded purpose to succeed. She had become my North Star. She was my compass and I was hers and she was mine. Everything before her no longer mattered. She was all I wanted and all I needed.

When she was gone that wind turned into a hurricane and I was lost. I don’t think I’ll ever have that level of focus ever again. After her death I found myself angry that I had spent so many hours focused in study that could have been spent with her. I walked away from my studies and I simply shut down. I pickled my liver and nearly melted my brain the two years following her passing and I consider myself lucky to even be here typing these words you are reading.

I do not have any answers as to why things happen in this world. I try and believe that there is a reason behind all things. Sometimes it is a struggle to hold on to a belief which at one time was ingrained but I do my best. I miss my Susie every day and each and every time I have some mishap or things get tough I catch myself talking to her out loud. Perhaps I’m just crazy. It’s been three years and ten months roughly since she passed and if you’ve lost someone I regret telling you this but you’ll always miss them.

-jm